UCAS – Paperless Admissions

For those who may not be familiar with the post-school education system in the UK, UCAS is a national body which is responsible for managing applications to higher education courses in the UK. Anyone wishing to study at a UK University will submit their application online via the UCAS web site which also provides information to assist applicants in their choice of University and course.

The process is fully online – I was on the parent side of this a couple of years ago when my son applied to University, and it’s always interesting to see things from a different perspective! What would not be obvious to most parents, however, is that once all these applications are submitted online and the data is transferred electronically, until now UCAS has also printed them out and distributed something like 2.7 million paper copies of the applications to Universities across the UK every year. It is therefore the paper application that forms the basis of the admissions process.

All that is about to change. Following a review of the application processes, UCAS announced that they plan to move to a completely paperless process so that student applications will only be passed to Universities electronically instead of by hard copy. This will take effect for students commencing in Academic Year 2014-15, which actually means that we will no longer receive paper forms from the start of the next admissions cycle in Oct/Nov 2013.

Sheila Kay, Head of Admissions and Enquiries at RGU, is leading the project at RGU to prepare for this and this is her most recent update on progress and plans:

“Over the last year we have done a lot of work including working with a selection of school-based admissions tutors and staff to identify what we require to put in place to continue best practice but to also look at ways to improve our efficiency and effectiveness throughout the admissions cycle.
By the end of this month, the supplier will be on site to install a web-based component of our student record system which gives us the functionality we are looking for.

The first phase of testing will be done by admissions staff to ensure the basic business processes are working as they should before expanding testing out to others. As all the Schools/Faculties have different ways of working and different requirements, it is important to ensure that what is put in place works for each area. Volunteers will be sought to assist with testing at various times over the coming months.

For courses that have no interview/selection process to manage, it is likely that input won’t be required until October.

For courses that do interview or have selection visits the plan is to get a short working group together to look at these requirements in more detail to ensure we can accommodate all procedures within the scope of the project. Contact will be made with these Schools shortly to get this started.

The current timeline is to get all the testing done by the end of October 2013 with a view to the system being put into the live environment at the beginning of November. There will be members of staff that have been involved with testing who will also require training in the full system. There will also be staff who’ve not been involved in testing and will be using the system and will require training in how to use it. This will take place early November and several sessions will be set up at Garthdee to ensure all staff have the opportunity to attend.”

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